Trinity grad to hall of fame

Don Ward, a graduate of Trinity High School, will be inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, Virginia Chapter, during ceremonies April 12 in Glen Allen, Va.,

Here is Ward's history.

Don Ward will be inducted into the National Wrestling Fall of Fame, Virginia Chapter, in Glenn Allen, Virginia on April 12, 2014.

 Don had never intended to be a wrestler as a child growing up on a Pennsylvania farm.  But what had started as a chance opportunity in high school turned unto a life long passion.  Don attended Trinity High School.  Although Trinity had a renowned wrestling program, they found themselves without a competitive wrestler to fill the 154-lb class during Don’s senior year in 1955; so, Don was recruited to fill that position.  Don went on to take first in district and second in regional.  He received a football scholarship to Bullis Prep School in Silver Spring, MD from the Naval Academy.  Entering the Naval Academy in 1957, he gave up football after Plebe year and made the varsity wrestling team as a sophomore at 147.

Don had a 20 year United States Air Force career.  While stationed in Douglas, WY in 1961-62, he continued his wrestling interest and became a state certified wrestling official and helped coach the local high school team.  After various Air Force assignments with few chances to get involved with wrestling, his last assignment was to Langley AFB, VA giving Don the opportunity to settle into and spend more time working with a single wrestling region.  His entry into the Peninsula wrestling began by doing matchmaking for summer tournaments, and season ending tournaments for the youth teams from Poquoson, Hampton, Newport News and York County. 

Don’s son, Donald, wrestled on the Hampton HS team from 1976-80.  During this time, Don helped coach and also worked out with the team.  This included taking kids from Hampton to summer wrestling camps and tournaments.  Don even wrestled in the tournaments when they had college or senior divisions.

In 1976, Poquoson High School was in need of a wrestling coach.  Don recruited Duane Day who had just graduated from West Liberty University.  Duane was an outstanding wrestler for Trinity and West Liberty.  Under Duane, Poquoson won the next five consecutive State championships.  To assist Duane, Don became treasurer of the youth program and started coaching one of the youth teams.  He continuously encouraged the youth participants to bring their friends out for wrestling and was very successful in expanding the program.  In 1982, Duane returned to his home town and became the head wrestling coach at Fort Cherry.

In an effort to raise additional wrestling opportunities on the Virginia Peninsula, Don became involved with the original group that created the Peninsula Wrestling Association (PWA) in 1979, which started the Virginia Duals Tournament in January 1981 wrestling in the Hampton Coliseum.  This was the initial start of team vs individual competition in tournaments.  The first National College Team Championship was started at the VirginiaDuals (VADuals) in Jan 1989.  In recent years, local PA teams have wrestled in the VADuals as McGuffy, Trinity, Cannon-McMillian, Chartiers-Huston and Peters Township.  Cannon-McMillian won the national high school division championship in 2011.  In supporting the VADuals, Don recruited and trained table workers but is best known setting up and maintaining the wrestling clocks for the tournament.  Through his self initiative and the benefit of an electrical engineering degree, Don taught himself how to maintain and rebuild the decades old Daktronics wrestling clocks that were obsolete even by 1970’s standards.  They recently have been replaced with the newer technology clocks.  He still has two old clocks in working order he would like to give away! 

Over the last 40 plus years, Don has participated in the Virginia Duals, the National Collegiate Wrestling Championships held at Hampton University, as well as several Virginia Challenge tournaments.   He was Grand Marshall for the 2012 Virginia Duals Tournament and was awarded the “Wrestling’s Man of the Year 2011-2012” by the Newport News Shipbuilding Apprentice School.

Don married his Trinity High School sweetheart, Donna Waldygo, and they recently celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary. They have a daughter, Tammy West, her husband, Allen, and two sons that reside in Raleigh, NC, and son, Donald, and his wife, Cathy, are currently residing in Singapore.



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